Contact: Emily Springer, Communication Manager, Communication and Information Technology, University Outreach and Engagement,

EAST LANSING, MI: On February 24, the annual MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony took place, honoring the outstanding work of students, faculty, and staff in collaboration with community-based partners.

Established in 2017, the awards program recognizes engaged university-community collaborations that have the potential to address large-scale problems and challenging societal issues.

“The impactful work we have seen from all award recipients this year is truly inspirational,” said Laurie A. Van Egeren, interim associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement. “The collaborative efforts between university representatives and their partners in communities near and far has shown just how much can be accomplished when we work together to make a difference in our world.”

2022 marked the inaugural year of the Institutional Champion Award for Community-Engagement Scholarship. Recipients honored with this distinction have had a significant positive impact on the ability of others to engage with communities beyond campus, and, in doing so, have advanced the institutionalization of community-engaged scholarship and university outreach at Michigan State University.

The 2022 MSU Outreach and Engagement award recipients are:

Michigan State University Community Engagement Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Gordon Henry, Jr., College of Arts and Letters

Dr. Gordon Henry, Jr. is an accomplished poet, activist teacher-scholar, and registered citizen of the White Earth Anishinaabe Nation, as well as an award-winning creative scholar with an international reputation. Some of his greatest passions include highlighting Indigenous storytellers and preserving their cultural heritage through his co-edited book series with MSU Press, American Indian Studies Series. He has also co-edited the collection of North American Indigenous graphic literature, Not (Just) (An)other.

Henry has served as the Gordon Russell Visiting Scholar twice at Dartmouth College, which led to the co-edited, Afterlives of Indigenous Archives. His works have appeared in translation internationally and have included community members, scholars, and writers.

Henry organized and continues to serve on the Wewaawiindamojig (Indigenous Advisory Board) that has funded numerous Anishinaabe community language and culture events and initiatives.

Institutional Champion Award for Community Engagement Scholarship

  • Stephen L. Esquith, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Dr. Stephen L. Esquith has dedicated his career to collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations, both locally and globally. He led University efforts to create and found the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH), which opened its doors in 2007 with the notion of students “living their learning” through community-engaged work at the forefront of its curriculum.

Today the College advances its work in community engagement around the values of sustained partnerships, radical reciprocity, and co-generated knowledge. Through Esquith’s leadership and encouragement, the RCAH’s community-engaged course requirements have evolved, as has the diversity of its partnerships.

Esquith has recently returned to the faculty where he plans to continue preparing students for rich lives of purpose and contribution by teaching RCAH courses on civic engagement and political theory.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

Project title: Advocacy and Other Community Tactics to Challenge Barriers to HIV Care for Gay and Bisexual Men and Transgender Women (Project ACT)

  • Robin Lin Miller, College of Social Science
  • MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights

Dr. Robin Lin Miller began partnering with MPact, a civil-society organization (CSO), to dismantle barriers to HIV care for gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

Partnerships with LGBT-led CSOs in Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Jamaica led to systems for monitoring stigma and discrimination in the provision of HIV healthcare, routine healthcare worker sensitization efforts, and healthcare-community partnerships to improve access to HIV services. Project achievements include Jamaica’s first submission on the state of transgender access to healthcare to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Period Review, the establishment of national sensitivity training standards in the Dominican Republic, and expanded access to affirming HIV care in Ghana, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity

Project title: Archivo de Respuestas Emergencias de Puerto Rico (AREPR)

  • Christina Boyles, College of Arts and Letters
  • University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras
  • University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez
  • Digital Library of the Caribbean
  • El Puente–Enlace Latino de Acción Climática
  • Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico
  • JunteGente
  • Instituto Transdisciplinario de Investigación-Acción Social (ITIAS)
  • Operation Blessing

Dr. Christina Boyles and her community partners in Puerto Rico are working to develop a digital open-access repository of artifacts related to natural disasters including Hurricane María, and the Guayanilla earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.  Connecting community members with the web development and metadata capabilities of MSU has allowed collected materials, like oral history interviews, to be assembled in a freely available site that highlights the innovative knowledge production of grassroots community organizations in Puerto Rico. Not only do these materials have the potential to save lives but are also imperative to developing future emergency protocols based on local knowledge and community action.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

Project title: Bias Busters Faith-Based Cultural Competence Guides: An Interfaith Publishing Alliance

  • Joe Grimm, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • InterFaith Council of Metropolitan Detroit

Joe Grimm and students from MSU’s School of Journalism have worked with community partners to battle stereotypes, elevate understanding, and encourage conversations through a series of cultural competency guides titled, “Bias Busters.” The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC) has been a prominent leader in guiding the Bias Busters sub-series on religion as well as on racial and ethnic groups. The guides help student-authors learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion in Grimm’s journalism course and are also a resourceful tool for businesses and organizations.  To date, more than 7,000 guides have been sold, with more than 500 people being credited in the guides as collaborators.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

Project title: Critical Connections: Broadband Access, Student Learning Outcomes, and Community Development

  • Johannes M. Bauer, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Keith N. Hampton, College of Community Arts and Sciences
  • Merit Network, Inc.
  • Southwest Michigan Planning Commission
  • Michigan Broadband Alliance
  • Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force
  • Regional Educational Media Center 22 (REMC 22)
  • Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District
  • Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District
  • St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency

Drs. Bauer and Hampton partnered with several local and state agencies to develop conceptual frameworks, methods, and tools to help overcome discrepancies in access to high-speed Internet for school-aged children living in rural parts of the state. They worked with partners to build reliable, spatially granular data, and maps of household connectivity while also developing a deeper understanding of implications of poor broadband access. The knowledge gained through these partnerships has improved the development and planning of remedial measures, and partners have been able to attract private investment and obtain public funding to bridge digital divides that affect thousands of households across Michigan.

Graduate Student Awards for Community Engagement Scholarship:

Project title: Shaping Society Through Scholarship and Action

  • Sharieka Botex, College of Arts and Letters

Project title: Queering Medicine: Intake Form Guidance for Providers

  • Wilfredo Flores, College of Arts and Letters

Project title: Reviving Community: Rebuilding Social Recovery in Rural Post-Disaster Japan

  • Kayleigh Ward, College of Social Science

The following nominees were also recognized with special commendations:

  • Zoe Hansen, College of Natural Science
  • Debra Lynn Miller, College of Social Science
  • Ji Youn Shin, College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Spartan Volunteer Service Awards

The awards ceremony also celebrated students who received Student Volunteer Service Awards from the Center for Community Engaged Learning. These awards were bestowed on individuals who volunteered 100 or more hours over the course of one year, at an event in January with President Samuel L. Stanley. For 2020-2021, 76 students received an award, and at the MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony, four were recognized for having completed more than 650 hours of volunteer work:

  • Shanawar Lone, graduate law student, College of Law
  • Elizabeth Sachs, graduate law student, College of Law
  • Amir Tavakoli, senior physiology major, College of Natural Science
  • Alexandra Wallman, senior human biology major, College of Natural Science